Monday, March 28, 2011


On my coffee table sits the book Potato, by John Reader. In the disc player in my car is At Home, by Bill Bryson. I'm embarrassed to admit that the similarities of the two books escaped me until I was a third of the way into them. That's when I realized they are both microhistories (I didn't make up that word). They both start small by describing an overlooked, seemingly insignificant object, and then link that small thing to big events, so that the development of a pencil or of a house becomes a broad far-ranging cultural history.

I like that, and I must not be alone because quite a few books have been written on that pattern recently. (Mark Kurlansky has been particularly prolific.) The Library's APL Recommends has a Microhistories book list under Nonfiction and below are some of the titles (nothing cryptic here):


Bubba said...

Bryson's "At Home" seems to pop up wherever I go, so I guess I'm supposed to read it. I rather enjoy those types of books, myself.

No cryptics? :(
Nathaniel's Nutmeg Zipper does sound like a good name for a band, though.

tim snead said...

Or an Elizabethan bawdy show.

Bubba: I have a good idea for a puzzle that is going to take me some time to make and I just haven't found it yet... but watch this space.